NEW ORLEANS — With over 4.5 million passengers screened during the first two days of the Thanksgiving travel period, federal travel officials are projecting air travel will approach pre-pandemic levels.
Staff at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport braced for the high volume of travelers this holiday season by introducing some parking options for passengers.
Valet service is now available at the departures gate, for $36 a day. There is also a new website where you can pay and reserve your parking spot before you arrive.
While there have been no widespread reports of cancellations or delays, MSY officials encourage you to arrive early, regardless of when you're traveling.
Erin Burns, the Director of Communications said, "With all these people coming into the facility we just want to remind passengers to be patient. Give yourself plenty of time to get through the airport and process through the security checkpoint, then into your gate."
Some passengers say they headed to the airport early but were surprised to find little to no lines at the check-in ticket areas and TSA.
Darien Coutu, traveling to Oregon said, "We got here two hours early. We expected it to take forever but I think we’re just going to end up sitting at the gate for a while. We expected it to take forever but I think we’re just going to end up sitting at the gate for a while.”
While most people make it through TSA smoothly there are some issues. The state of Louisiana ranks in the top 10 states who have the highest number of passengers bringing guns into the airport.
Sari Koshetz a spokesperson for TSA said, "Last year we stopped 119 firearms from going through the checkpoint and being in the possession of another passenger. This year so far, we've stopped 77 guns, and the trend is a little lower than what it was at the same time last year. It's still a number that is way too high and way too dangerous."
If you do want to travel with your gun it must be cleared by the airline you're flying, unloaded in a hard carrying case, and in your checked bag. However, Koshetz says the rules for traveling with a gun aren't the same everywhere.
"It’s your responsibility to know what the law is on the other side of your trip because, in fact, you may not be able to have that gun at all on the other side of your trip," said Koshetz. "The fine for bringing a gun through a TSA checkpoint is $13,000 and you might be going to jail instead of your vacation. We are stopping more guns this year than last year the trend unfortunately keeps going up.”
TSA agents are also trained to spot prohibited items that are concealed. In just the past few weeks TSA agents confiscated a pen that was actually a tazer and a comb that was actually a knife. Travelers are encouraged to check their bags before they head to the airport and while going through TSA Koshetz said you should remember to take all your items out of the bins.
"It’s very surprising how many items are left behind by passengers and end up in the lost and found because they emptied everything in the bin and not in their carry-on," said Koshetz.
Koshetz says one way to avoid the long lines is to sign up for TSA precheck.